Afternoon Tea is a British institution and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Slather jam on your scones and cut the crusts off your sandwiches, as National Afternoon Tea Week commences on 14 August. We’ve rounded up the best teas that London has to offer to help you make the right choice and we’ve categorised them so you can find an afternoon tea for every occasion.
Best for summer
The Ivy Kensington Brasserie, Kensington
What: To celebrate the season, The Ivy Kensington Brasserie has added some summery sweet treats to its afternoon tea offering, which already includes the likes of truffled chicken brioche rolls. We like the look of the Nursery Pot, which features an indulgent chocolate topping, lavender cream and edible flowers.
Where: 96 Kensington High Street, W8 4SG
Radio Rooftop, Covent Garden
What: This floral afternoon tea comes accompanied by a great view of the capital. Guests kick things off with a Manchego, quince jelly and bacon sandwich, or a mini Brie cheese and chicken brioche, before trying floral-inspired sweets such as a rose layer cake with strawberry, and a lavender-scented crème brûlée.
Where: ME London Hotel, 336-337 The Strand, WC2R 1HA
Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside
What: This stunning afternoon tea is inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and is set against a Fairyland backdrop, lavishly decorated with flowers, trees, toadstools and butterflies. Sweet treats include blackcurrant jam and violet macarons, and elderflower jelly with hedgerow berries and vanilla-infused cream.
Where: 21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT
Cinnamon Bazaar, Covent Garden
What: Cinnamon Bazaar’s Trader’s High Tea replaces cucumber sandwiches with Indian alternatives. Alongside a range of teas, including ginger and cardamom masala chai, a selection of snacks is on offer – think tandoori chicken and chutney sandwiches, ‘bhangra’ lamb sliders and vegetable samosas.
Where: 28 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7JS
Cut at 45 Park Lane, Mayfair
What: Offering an American twist on a British classic, Cut is serving up its CUTcakes & Tea. You can expect a Wagyu beef slider smothered in garlic aioli as a savoury option, while sweeter nibbles include peanut butter and jelly Twinkies, and a caramel corn macaron made to look like a cheeseburger. Wash it all down with fruity iced teas and American craft beers.
Where: 45 Park Lane, W1K 1PN
Ginza Onodera, Mayfair
What: This high-end Japanese has partnered with Tsujiri Matcha House to launch Onodera Ochakai. The tea swaps out sandwiches and scones for sweet and savoury petit fours, sushi and Japanese small plates. Try the likes of sushi rolls filled with deep-fried soft shell crab, and a chocolate gateau served with matcha sauce.
Where: 15 Bury Street, SW1Y 6AL
Céleste at The Lanesborough, Belgravia
What: Served amid chandeliers, polished silverware and marble busts, this is traditional afternoon tea at its best. To coincide with the ‘Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up’ exhibition taking place at the nearby V&A, an afternoon tea based on the vibrant colours, textures and shapes of Frida’s art and life is being served.
Where: The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, SW1X 7TA
The Corinthia, Covent Garden
What: If you prefer your afternoon tea sans gimmicks, The Corinthia is the place for you. Set against a backdrop of live piano music, tea is served on gorgeous hand-painted china and a selection of dainty finger sandwiches includes a decadent egg and truffle mayo option. Don’t miss the homemade marshmallows for a sweet treat, which are trimmed to scoffable size at the table.
Where: Corinthia Hotel, Whitehall Place, SW1A 2BD
The Wolseley, Mayfair
What: It’s only right that a classic like The Wolseley uses its afternoon tea to celebrate the best of British. On the menu, you’ll find the likes of warm scones topped with clotted cream and homemade jam, an assortment of finger sandwiches, and puddings including mini Victoria sponges and sherry trifles.
Where: 160 Piccadilly, W1J 9EB
Aqua Shard, London Bridge
What: This Mary Poppins-themed tea is practically perfect in every way, with its oh-so-pretty details including a mirror menu and ‘medicine’ liqueurs to add to your drinks. Tuck into the likes of cherry chocolate mousse made to look like Mary’s hat and scones straight from her famous carpet bag.
Where: Level 31 The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY
The Drawing Rooms at the Ampersand Hotel, Kensington
What: The Drawing Rooms’ Science Afternoon Tea is inspired by the nearby Science Museum. With savoury and sweet bites served in petri dishes, guests can nibble on smoked salmon and avocado blinis, and coconut and blueberry macarons, among other treats. For a little extra sparkle, you can also add a glass of Champagne.
Where: 10 Harrington Road, SW7 3ER
Il Pampero, Belgravia
What: Truffle fiends will be delighted to try the new Truffle Afternoon Tea at Il Pampero. Using summer truffle, the offering includes savoury options of burrata with truffle and truffled arancini, alongside the sweeter likes of a coffee tartelette, a hazelnut bignè and a caramel salted truffle.
Where: 20 Chesham Place, SW1X 8HQ
The Arch London, Marylebone
What: At this boutique Marylebone hotel, guests can dust off their tiaras and indulge in the Royal Afternoon Tea. The tea features finger sandwiches such as Cheddar with apple and raisin chutney, and smoked salmon blinis. You’ll also enjoy three perfectly paired glasses of different Taittinger Champagnes.
Where: The Arch London, 50 Great Cumberland Place, W1H 7FD
Blind Spot, Covent Garden
What: For a grown-up take on afternoon tea, try this tipsy option at Blind Spot. Guests will enjoy a variety of signature cocktails, accompanied by sweet and savoury dishes such as smoked salmon and avocado tartlets, and raspberry and matcha tea tarts. All of the cocktails are tea-infused, so you won’t be straying too far from tradition.
Where: 45 St Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4HX
Mews of Mayfair, Mayfair
What: Mews of Mayfair has teamed up with Veuve Clicquot Rich to launch a tipsy afternoon tea. You can expect servings of tea-infused Champagne in generous glass teapots alongside the savoury likes of crostini’s with sweet fig, goat’s cheese and prosciutto. Sweet treats meanwhile, include a chocolate brownie, a mint meringue and Pimms-spiked jelly.
Where: 10 Lancashire Court, New Bond Street, W1S 1EY
Oxo Tower Brasserie, South Bank
What: Billed as a Theatre Not Afternoon Tea, this offering is inspired by London’s famous theatre productions. Guests will tuck into thespian-inspired fare such as a sour cherry and bergamot-filled white chocolate skull, paired with a goblet of Hamlet’s poison. Each cake in the tea is paired with a matching cocktail, and you’ll also get a box of treats to take home.
Where: Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, SE1 9PH
Still craving finger sandwiches? Click here for a fuller list of the best afternoon teas across London.